April 30, 2010

Oil Rig Explosion was on Earth Day

I hadn't really been paying attention to the coincidence of an Oil Rig in the Gulf of Mexico having exploded on Earth Day 2010.  The link is to a letter to the editor at the Seattle Times.  Here's a piece:
This is a response to "Oil-platform explosion illustrates risks of Gulf of Mexico drilling," News, April 28. In the last month, seven workers were killed by an explosion in an oil refinery in Anacortes, 29 coal miners were killed in an explosion in a coal mine in West Virginia and, on Earth Day, a dozen or so workers died when on oil rig off the Gulf Coast exploded and sank into the ocean.
None of these tragedies would have occurred if our country had switched to safe and clean energy sources.

The reason I ran across this is because I was trying to find out if the authorities had learned anything yet on what caused the explosion... well, what do you think?  Not many oil rigs have exploded and sunk into the ocean... and to have this happen on Earth Day? 

Whether some greenies decided to cause an ecological disaster (how fitting) or not, the letter writer assumes there are no industrial accidents in clean energy... you know, nothing like the Hindenburg exploding or dams collapsing.  And what about all the arsenic, cadmium, telluride, chromium and lead used in the production of solar panels... if everyone moves toward solar power, just where does the letter-writer think all those solar panels will end up?  And what are the dangers to the workers who create them?  Where will all the used up Prius batteries end up?  Where will all the CFL bulbs with their "dash of mercury" end up?  Life is full of dangers, not the least of which being crazy people willing to blow things up to make them feel better.

Update:  The explosion was actually on the day before Earth Day, around 10pm...so Earth-Day Eve...

Also, here is a nice article on a possible cause (blowout).

April 28, 2010

When Government Attacks

"A bright line was crossed on the 20th," says Christina Botteri, a spokeswoman for the Tea Party Federation. "The left constantly attacks conservatives as racist, as dumb, as evil, but what happened on the 20th is a sitting congressman, with the full voice and credibility of the House of Representatives, accused a group of citizens with whom he philosophically disagrees of assault and then refused to help find the persons responsible. They need to help us find the people responsible or apologize for making it up."

The world was watching and listening when Hoosier Congressman Andre Carson walked through those Tea Partiers -- why won't he help identify the bigots who invisibly and silently screamed racists taunts at him? 

Demonizing Wall Street

"The Senators, seemingly without exception, are embarrassingly ignorant of modern risk management techniques."

Today's inquisition was a sideshow. Here is what really happened: there was a bubble in housing prices. The bubble was mostly the result of government policy--loose money, combined with pressure on banks to make bad loans to unqualified home buyers. It all worked for a while because Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, under the leadership of Congressman Barney Frank and others, created a secondary market for shaky mortgages. Goldman Sachs participated in this market, downstream, along with many other players. But the whole thing wasn't an accident or a conspiracy, it was government policy. The home price bubble could have only one possible result. All bubbles burst--there is nothing else they can do--and the bursting of a bubble is always painful. The whole disaster that began in 2008 was the inevitable result of government policy, which is why Senators are so anxious to pass the buck to Goldman Sachs.

Read the rest at the link.  My view of Congress can't get any lower, but somewhere out there, some 25% of the people still believe Congress is doing a good job.

April 27, 2010

Obama Coverup

The Obama Administration had the Health and Human Services (HHS) report in-hand a week before the vote on Obamacare but they refused to review the document because it showed Obamacare will increase the cost of health care in America.

Hoosier Rep. Andre Carson's Big Lie

It has become clear that Indiana Congressman Andre Carson lied about racist slurs against him... Didn't we all read the story about "Crying Wolf" when we were kids?  Congressman Carson's false claim shows he doesn't really believe wolves are out there...

The primary accuser, [Indiana] Congressman Carson, who audaciously claimed the crowd screamed the "N-word fifteen times," would not return our call. So we have gone part way to try and piece together the events of March 20.

Not only is the audio devoid of any racial slur, but the scene at Cannon clearly shows the congressmen coming down the steps completely unobstructed, and with a clear path to the Capitol. And, when we juxtapose the audio accusation Rep.Carson made moments after the alleged event occurred with actual video footage of the moment Rep. Carson claims he first heard the racial slur, it is as plain as day that Congressman Carson was not isolated by a mob and facing a racist throng that could conceivably hurl rocks at him. As you can see for yourself.

The reason the Congressmen walked through the crowd to get to the Capitol was to try to cause an incident.  When no incident occurred, they made up the claim and the media ran with it.

April 25, 2010

PBS Claims 67,000 People are Tea Partiers

It's hard to believe people pay money for an analysis this lame.  Don't believe your own eyes and ears, there are only 67,000 Tea Partiers nationwide.

I'd like to see the PBS estimate on the number of Minutemen during the Revolutionary War.  I think their registration forms must be lying around here somewhere.

April 22, 2010

Solar Dynamics Observatory

The SDU is up and functioning... WOW!  Be sure to check out some of the youtube videos at the link.

April 19, 2010

Rachmaninov had big Hands

Waiting on Katla

Isn't that a beautiful sunset?  The red is from all the volcanic ash in the atmosphere.  Anyway, New Scientist says that the Katla volcano, also in Iceland, is much larger than the currently erupting Eyjafjallaj√∂kull volcano.  Worse, the last three times Eyjafjallaj√∂kull has erupted, Katla has also erupted -- and Katla is overdue.

The USA Today worries that a Katla eruption could lead to global cooling while the Telegraph claims global warming causes volcanic eruptions by melting the Icelandic ice cap and releasing pressure on the magma underneath the crust of the Earth.

What seems clear is that current climate models ignore Volcanoes and Solar Cycle wild cards but both appear in the hand we've been dealt.

April 16, 2010

Underfunded Teacher Pension Plans

Retirees are sucking school funding away because legislators allow public pension plans to assume their investments will make a killing on the stock market.  Those same legislators force private pension plans to low-ball any expectations on their investments.  Thus all public pension plans are underfunded so the lawmakers can spend pension money instead of saving it without regard for the coming crash, which is now arrived.

Of the fifty-nine funds in our sample, fifty-six show a funding deficit in their financial statements. After we made adjustments, all fifty-nine showed funding shortfalls. But some funds are in much better shape than others.

On the bright side, five plans are 75 percent funded or better: teacher-specific plans in the District of Columbia, New York State, and Washington State, and state employee retirement systems in North Carolina and Tennessee.

The worst-funded plan in our sample is the West Virginia Teachers' Retirement System, which we estimate to be only 31 percent funded. The four states whose plans have the next-worst funding gaps are Illinois, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Kansas; all are less than 40 percent funded.

We really, really need to get rid of all local and federal congress people who have put us into this mess.  They've converted their responsibility to represent us with their votes into positions as purchasing agents for their districts.

April 15, 2010

Kicking down the door

Congress Becomes Madison's "Overbearing Majority"

James Madison in Federalist Paper No. 10

But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society…It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm…

Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people…

Those founders of ours had a wonderful way of looking ahead by looking at the past.

Icelandic Volcano

Kaveri Niththyananthan (what a name!) writes about the volcano that's disrupting air travel in Europe

April 14, 2010

Want a headache...

Quiet Sun puts Europe on ice

A nice article about the coming Ice Age in the New Scientist.

Lockwood and his colleagues took average winter temperatures from the Central England Temperature dataset, which extends back to 1659, and compared it with records of highs and lows in solar activity. They found that during years of low solar activity, winters in the UK were far more likely to be colder than average. "There is less than a 1 per cent probability that the result was obtained by chance," says Lockwood, in a paper to appear in Environmental Research Letters.

April 13, 2010

A little White Lie

Did the President really go to a soccer game Saturday morning?  Or was that a little white lie he told for some, as yet undiscovered reason.

The whole thing is rather strange, especially when you factor in the fact that there was no soccer match scheduled.  Where was he?

How to use Global Warming Funds

New Jersey Governor Christie is using the entire $65 million targeted for fighting Global Warming in New Jersey to offset his state's budget shortfall.  Priorities in action.  Excellent.

April 9, 2010

How Close were we to World War III

Back in 1977, when we were busy graduating high school, the Russians were busily building huge, underground command centers behind the Berlin Wall in East Germany where they planned to roll over Western Europe and rain nuclear warheads across Europe and America.

All Hearts and Roses

We already know what a world without nuclear weapons looks like, don't we... they've only been around since 1945.

April 5, 2010

Why so Giddy, John?

Why does CNN's John King seem positively giddy while discussion head of RNC Michael Steele's problems? It's almost as if he wants, as if needs, to report that republicans have fired the Black man heading up their party.

Too bad, John, not today. Check back again tomorrow.
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